What is the Statute of Limitations for Securities Fraud?

The investment and securities industry is heavily regulated to protect investors from fraud and other unscrupulous practices. Unfortunately, there are still many instances of securities fraud that occur each year. When securities fraud is discovered, legal action can be taken against the perpetrators. However, there is a time limit for taking action, known as the statute of limitations. What is the Statute of Limitations for Securities Fraud? The statute of limitations is the time period during which legal action can be taken and they vary state to state. For example, the statute of limitations for securities fraud in Florida is subject to two separate timelines: a two (2) year statute of limitations and a five (5) year statute of repose. Both of these timelines begin running on different dates, and it is important to understand the difference between them. For the two-year statute of limitations, the clock starts ticking when the plaintiff becomes aware of the “facts constituting the violation.” The five-year repose period begins from the defendant’s last culpable act, regardless of whether the plaintiff is aware of it or not. The pairing of these two timelines ensures that there is always a chance to take legal action against securities fraud, even if the victim was not aware of the fraud at the time it occurred. However, it is important to note that the sooner action is taken, the better. IMPORTANT: Securities fraud is a complex area of law, and the statute of limitations can be complicated to determine. Due to this, if you believe you are a victim of securities fraud, you should consult with an experienced securities fraud attorney to discuss your legal options and whether the statute of limitations may apply to your case. How does the law define when a securities fraud has been “discovered” or should have been discovered? Due to the complexity of the securities and investment market, it can be difficult to determine when a securities fraud has been “discovered” or should have been discovered. In part, this is why there is a range of two to five years after the date of the fraud within which legal action can be taken. As a good rule of thumb, the time starts ticking on the statute of limitations when the investor becomes aware of (or discovers) the facts or should have been aware of the facts that would cause a reasonable person to believe that securities fraud has occurred. This means two things: one, if the investor believes that he or she has been defrauded, the investor should act quickly and consult with an investment fraud attorney to discuss his or her legal options; and two, if the investor is unsure whether securities fraud has occurred, the investor should err on the side of caution and seek legal counsel to avoid losing the right to take action. IMPORTANT: Unfortunately, ignorance to a securities fraud often will not excuse the running of the statute of limitations. If you have suffered investment losses due to another’s actions, you may have a securities fraud claim, even if you were unaware of the fraud at the time it occurred. How is Securities Fraud handled in Court? The securities fraud cases for investors are typically handled in civil court and arbitrations, rather than criminal court.  A vast majority of securities fraud are brought under Rule 10b-5 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, which prohibits “any manipulative, deceptive, or fraudulent practices” in the securities industry. In addition, securities fraud cases can be tried through the FINRA arbitration process. More and more disputes are being handled through FINRA arbitration, as it is generally faster and less expensive than going to court. How to Report Securities Fraud If you believe that you have been the victim of securities fraud, there are a few things you can do: File a complaint with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). File a complaint with the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC). Contact an experienced securities fraud attorney. In securities fraud claims, timely filing of a claim is critical. As a result, if you believe you have been the victim of securities fraud, it is essential to act quickly. Filing a complaint with FINRA or the SEC generally will not help you get compensated for your losses. However, it is an important step in the dispute resolution process as any investigation by the regulators might put pressure on the defendants to resolve your claim and get compensation for your losses. An experienced securities fraud attorney can help you navigate the process of filing a claim and recovering your losses. Consider Speaking with a Securities Fraud Attorney If you believe that you have been the victim of securities fraud, you do have legal options available to you. Finding yourself a victim to securities fraud can be a confusing and frustrating experience. We can help. At The Law Offices of Robert Wayne Pearce, P.A., we have successfully represented many investors who have been victims of securities fraud. To schedule your free confidential consultation, please call us at 561-338-0037 or fill out one of our short contact forms.

Continue Reading

Can You Sue a Brokerage Firm for Investment Losses?

If you have experienced significant investment losses, you may be wondering if you can sue your brokerage firm. Can You Sue a Brokerage Firm? Yes, you can sue a brokerage firm to help recover any investment losses that you have suffered due to a broker’s negligence or fraud. Lawsuits are typically filed against brokerage firms rather than individual brokers because the firm is vicariously (automatically) liable for the actions of all their employees. In addition, brokerage firms are directly responsible for supervising its employees and ensuring that they are adhering to industry regulations and can be held liable for their supervisory failures. FINRA rules require a brokerage firm to establish policies and procedures that monitor brokers’ activities in order to avoid investor losses and investment fraud. As such, if the brokerage firm has failed to supervise its employees properly and this has led to your investment losses, you may have a claim against the firm. IMPORTANT: Filing a successful lawsuit against a brokerage firm is a complex undertaking. You will need to prove that the firm did not properly supervise its employees and that this failure led to your investment losses. If you decide to pursue legal action, it is important to consult with an experienced securities lawyer who can help you navigate the process and build a strong case against the firm. When Can a Brokerage Firm be Held Liable for Investment Losses? Despite having issues with an individual broker, many investors are surprised to learn that lawsuits against an individual are actually quite rare. The vast majority of lawsuits that are filed in connection with investment losses are brought against the brokerage firm that employed the broker. A brokerage firm is required to properly supervise its employees and to ensure that they are adhering to FINRA rules and regulations. If the firm fails to do so and this results in investors suffering losses, the firm can be held liable. It’s unfortunately common for independent brokerage firms to hire under-qualified brokers with little to no experience in the industry. These brokers are often given very little training and are left to their own devices when it comes to handling clients’ investments. As a result, these inexperienced brokers can make serious mistakes that cost investors a lot of money. Due to the fact that brokerage firms are required to properly supervise their employees, the liability for investment losses often falls on the brokerage firm that hired the broker rather than the individual broker him or herself. In addition, under Section 20(a) of the Securities and Exchange Act, a brokerage firm can be held liable for the negligence of its individual brokers and advisors. In essence, the law tends to hold the brokerage firm liable for the misconduct of its employees unless the brokerage firm acted in good faith and did not indirectly cause the misconduct which has resulted in the investors’ losses. Note: The process of establishing liability against a brokerage firm is complex and it can be difficult to prove that the firm is responsible for your investment losses. It is in the best interest of the brokerage firm to avoid liability, so they will likely have a team of lawyers working to protect them. As such, if you decide to pursue legal action against a brokerage firm, it is important to consult with an experienced securities lawyer who can help you navigate the process and build a strong case against the firm. The Law Offices of Robert Wayne Pearce P.A. has over 40 years of experience representing those who have been wronged by a fiduciary and have recovered over $160 million in investment losses for our clients. If you believe that you have been the victim of broker or brokerage firm misconduct, we can help. Contact us today for a free consultation. When Does the Liability Fall on the Individual Broker? There are many circumstances where the liability for investment losses may fall on the individual broker. For example, if a broker makes material misstatements or omissions about an investment, the broker can be held liable for any losses that result from those misrepresentations. Additionally, if a broker engages in fraudulent or illegal activity, the broker can be held liable for any losses that occur. All brokers and financial advisors are required to adhere to a strict code of ethics and owe their clients a fiduciary duty. A fiduciary duty is a legal obligation to act in the best interest of the client. If a broker breaches this duty and causes the client to lose money, the broker can be held liable. There are a wide variety of circumstances where a broker may breach their fiduciary duty to a client. For a more complete discussion on when the liability for investment losses falls on the individual broker, please see our article on “How to Sue a Financial Advisor or Stockbroker Over Investment Losses.” Have You Suffered Investment Losses? Take Legal Action Today. If you have suffered investment losses, you may be able to take legal action against the brokerage firm or individual broker responsible for your losses. The first step is to consult with an experienced securities lawyer to discuss your case and determine what legal options are available to you. The Law Offices of Robert Wayne Pearce P.A. has over 40 years of experience representing those who have been wronged by a fiduciary and have recovered over $160 million in investment losses for our clients. If you believe that you have been the victim of broker or brokerage firm misconduct, we can help. Contact us today for a free consultation.

Continue Reading

What is Securities Fraud?

If you’ve been the victim of securities fraud, you may be able to take legal action. What is securities fraud? Securities fraud, often referred to as either investment fraud or stock fraud, is a type of deceptive and illegal practice of targeting investors to make investment purchases or sales decisions based on false or misleading information, frequently resulting in substantial investment losses. Almost anyone can be a victim of securities fraud. While the elderly and inexperienced investors are frequent targets, even savvy investors can fall prey to securities fraud if they’re not careful. Perpetrators of securities fraud will often make false or misleading statements in order to persuade investors to buy or sell securities, usually at the benefit of the perpetrator. Important Takeaways Securities Fraud is an illegal and deceptive practice targeting investors to make investment decisions based on false or misleading information. There are many different perpetrators of securities fraud, and almost anyone can be a victim. Commons forms of securities fraud include but are not limited to: High Yield Investment Frauds, Ponzi & Pyramid Schemes, Advance Fee Schemes, Misconduct by an Investment Advisor, and Structured Notes. There are legal actions you can take if you have been the victim of securities fraud, especially if you’ve suffered substantial investment losses as a result. Note: If you believe you have been a victim of securities fraud, it is important to take action. Securities fraud is an illegal or unethical activity punishable by law. You may be able to recover your losses by filing a lawsuit against the person or entity who committed the fraud, as well as protect yourself and other investors from future harm. You should consider talking with a securities fraud lawyer to learn more about your legal options. The Different Perpetrators of Securities Fraud There are many different perpetrators of securities fraud, and they all have different motivations. Some may be driven by greed, while others may simply be trying to take advantage of investors. Regardless of their motivations, all perpetrators of securities fraud share one goal: to make money by deception. Securities fraud can be committed by a single person, such as a stockbroker or a financial advisor. It might also be perpetrated by an organization, such as a brokerage firm, corporation, or investment bank. In these scenarios, the target is usually an unsophisticated investor who is unaware of the fraud being committed. Independent individuals may also commit securities fraud, such as insider trading or market manipulation. In these cases, the individual investor is usually the perpetrator rather than the victim. Due to the actions of the independent individual, the entire market may be impacted, and other investors may suffer losses as a result. Unfortunately, the perpetrator of securities fraud may be unknown. This is often the case with internet fraud, where scammers set up fake websites or send out mass emails to trick investors into giving them money. Anyone can be a perpetrator of securities fraud, and anyone can be a victim. The best way to protect yourself is to be aware of the different types of securities fraud and to know what red flags to look for. What are Common Types of Securities Fraud? There are many different types of securities fraud, but some are more common than others. When a broker or investment firm takes your money with the promise of investing it and then uses it for other things, you’ve been a victim of securities fraud. Securities fraud schemes are often characterized by offers of guaranteed returns and low- to no-risk investments. The most typical forms of securities fraud, as defined by the FBI, are: High Yield Investment Frauds These types of securities fraud are often characterized by promises of high returns on investment with little to no risk. They may involve a few different forms of investments, such as securities, commodities, real estate, or other highly-valuable investments. You can identify these schemes due to their “Too good to be true” offers. These types of fraud tend to be unsolicited. Perpetrators may elicit investments from investors by internet postings, emails, social media, job boards, or even personal contact. They may also use mass marketing techniques to reach a large number of potential investors at once. Once the fraudster has received the investment money, they may simply disappear with it or use it to fund their own lifestyle. The investment itself may not even exist. Ponzi & Pyramid Schemes These types of securities fraud use the money collected from new investors to pay the high rates of return that were promised to earlier investors in the scheme. Payouts over time give the early impression that the scheme is a legitimate investment. However, eventually, there are not enough new investors to support the payouts, and the entire scheme collapses. When this happens, the people who invested at the beginning of the scheme often lose all of their money. In these schemes, the investors were the only source of funding. Advance Fee Schemes In these types of securities fraud, the investor is promised a large sum of money if they pay an upfront fee. The fees may be called “commissions”, “processing fees”, or something similar. The fraudulent organization will often require that the fee be paid in cash, wire transfer, or even cryptocurrency. They may also ask the investor to provide personal information such as bank account numbers or social security numbers. Once the fee is paid, the fraudulent organization will often disappear and the investor will never receive the promised money. Other Securities Fraud In addition to the above list provided by the FBI, at The Law Offices of Robert Wayne Pearce, P.A., we have found that the following types of securities fraud are also common: Misconduct by an Investment Advisor By far the most common type of securities fraud that our firm sees is misconduct by an investment advisor or brokers. Investment advisors or brokers are supposed to act in their clients’ best interests (fiduciary duty), but some advisors put their own interests ahead of their clients. For example, an advisor might recommend that a client invests in a...

Continue Reading

Can I Recover My GWG L Bonds Investment Losses?

In recent news, it was reported that GWG Holdings, a Dallas, Texas-based asset manager that provides insurance services, as well as acquires life insurance policies in the secondary market, filed for bankruptcy on April 20, 2022. It is estimated that GWG Holdings has more than $2 billion in liabilities, including $1.3 billion of GWG L bonds, and has missed millions of dollars in combined interest and principal payments to investors owning the GWG L bond series. IMPORTANT: As of February 2022, GWG Holdings has failed to pay $13.6 million in payments to GWG L bondholders. These were high yield, high risk, illiquid investments that as stockbrokers should have been wary and not recommended to investors with conversative or moderate risk tolerances. The Law Offices of Robert Wayne Pearce, P.A. is currently investigating claims against stockbrokers related to recommendations to purchase GWG Holdings L bonds (“GWG L bonds”) and is offering free consultations to those who have suffered GWG L bond losses. If you have suffered GWG L bond investment losses, our experienced securities litigation attorneys are prepared to discuss the matter and provide their legal opinion as to whether you can recover damages against the broker-dealer who recommended and sold you GWG L bonds. Please contact our law firm at 561-338-0037 or online for a free consultation. What are GWG L Bonds? In 2012, GWG Holdings created and has since sold nearly $2 billion in GWG L bonds to investors. These high-yield bonds were unrated and illiquid investments and therefore, unsuitable for investors with conservative or moderate risk tolerances. Need Legal Help? Let’s talk. or, give us a ring at 561-338-0037. GWG Holdings issued the GWG L bonds to raise capital to purchase an individual life insurance policyholder seeking liquidity or cash by selling his/her life insurance policy to GWG Holdings for more than the surrender value but substantially less than the policy’s face value. GWG Holdings would then make the premium payments and hope to receive a payout worth greater than what it paid for the policy after the original policy matures or the policyholder passes away. The subject GWG L bonds were created to finance these life insurance policy purchases by GWG Holdings.  The problem for investors was the GWG L bond investments depended on insurance policy premiums and benefits being paid out according to assumptions and statistical models, thus making them speculative investments for investors seeking income and protection of their capital. Further, GWG L bonds had no secondary market, which prevented investors from liquidating should they need the cash immediately. In other words, money used to purchase GWG L bonds was essentially trapped from the moment of purchase. Moreover, the only collateral supposedly backing GWG Holdings are interests in GWG subsidiary companies that purportedly owned real assets, including the insurance policies. Don’t Be Discouraged by GWG Holdings’ Bankruptcy  As early as April 2022, news sources reported that GWG Holdings was filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. However, this news should not stop investors from seeking the opinion of a skilled and experienced securities attorney and getting just compensation. Broker-dealers and their agents who misrepresented and/or made unsuitable recommendations as to the GWG L bonds may still be held liable for losses in investor accounts. In other words, an account holder can still file a FINRA arbitration against the broker-dealer to recover losses in GWG L bonds for misrepresentations, unsuitable recommendations, failure to conduct adequate due diligence, negligence, etc. You should not let your broker-dealer or broker/financial advisor convince you otherwise. Robert Wayne Pearce, P.A. Recovers Investment Losses The attorneys at Law Offices of Robert Wayne Pearce, P.A. are experienced in litigating high-yield and speculative fixed-income instrument securities loss cases. For over 40 years we have represented investors in arbitration and securities litigation matters, including FINRA arbitration proceedings in nearly every state. Contact us now at 561-338-0037 or contact us online to schedule your free initial consultation.  GWB L Bonds Were Sold for High Commissions! According to GWG Holdings, the GWG L bonds were sold by Emerson Equity, the managing broker-dealer, which partnered with other brokerage firms that also sold the L bonds to their retail customers. The commissions on such sales by the brokerage firms were as high as 8%. The Law Offices of Robert Wayne Pearce, P.A. suspects that many other broker-dealers were involved in the recommendation and sale of the GWG L bonds to their customers. Some of the firms alleged to have sold L bonds to their customers include: Aegis Capital Ages Financial Services Allied Beacon Partners American Trust Investment Services Arete Wealth Management Ausdal Financial Planers Cabot Lodge Securities Capital Investment Group Centaurus Financial, Inc. Center Street Securities Coastal Equities Dempsey Lord Smith Emerson Equity Great Point Capital IFP Securities International Assets Advisory Intervest International Equities Corporation Kingswood Capital Partners Landolt Securities Lifemark Securities Lion Street Financial Malone Securities Moloney Securities M Stevens Securities National Securities National Securities Corporation Newbridge Securities NI Advisors (Stiba Wealth Management) Strategic Financial Partners SW Financial The Fig Group Titan Securities TRL Capital Corporation Western international securities, Inc. Westmark Capital If the name of your broker-dealer does not appear on the list above, do not be alarmed. Rather, call us at 561-338–0037 or contact us online for free consultation to discuss whether you may have a claim to recover damages. Recover Your GWG L Bond Investment Losses in a FINRA Arbitration The Law Offices of Robert Wayne Pearce, P.A. is prepared to help investors who have sustained damages or monetary losses not only in GWG L bonds but other investments in your account in FINRA arbitration. If you were one of those investors who have suffered losses, you should seek the immediate advice of an experienced investment fraud attorney with more than 40 years of experience representing investors in investment fraud and broker-dealer negligence cases. It is imperative that you seek our consultation as soon as possible, as there are applicable eligibility rule and/or statutes of limitation that may forever bar your claim against the broker-dealer who...

Continue Reading

What is an SEC Wells Notice & How to Respond

If you’ve received a Wells Notice from the SEC, it’s important to understand what it is and how to respond. What is a Wells Notice? A Wells Notice is usually a formal letter (sometimes just a telephone call) in which the staff enforcement attorneys of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) notify individuals and/or firms that they are planning to recommend that the SEC authorize the attorneys to bring an enforcement action against the individual and/or the firm.  Investment Losses? Let’s talk. or, give us a ring at 800-732-2889. A Wells Notice will typically set forth the specific allegations against the individual and/or firm, as well as provide an opportunity for a response before the SEC makes a final decision on whether to bring charges. After an SEC investigation has turned up evidence of potential securities law infractions, the staff enforcement attorneys will usually provide a Wells Notice but, not always! Note: If you have received a Wells Notice, it means the SEC enforcement attorneys believe you have been violating securities laws and regulations, it is not a finding of guilt. It is important that you act quickly and consult with an experienced securities defense attorney to protect your rights and interests. What information is contained in a Wells Notice? A Wells Notice from the SEC will usually contain the following information: Identify the specific charges against the individual or firm that the SEC Enforcement Division is considering; Notify the recipient of the Wells Notice the opportunity to provide a written or videotape voluntary statement defending their actions (which may or may not include arguments why the Commission should not bring an action or why proposed charges or remedies should not be pursued, or bring any relevant facts to the Commission’s attention in connection with its consideration of the matter); Provide a reasonable time period for the recipient to prepare and submit their response; Advise the recipient that any submission should be addressed to the appropriate Assistant Director; Inform the recipient of the Wells notice that their Wells submission may be used by the Commission in any action or enforcement proceeding; An attached copy of the Wells Release; and An attached copy of the SEC’s Form 1662. The majority of what appears in a written Wells notice is boilerplate. Typically, the written notice details statutory and regulatory infractions under consideration but does not allude to the specifics of the specific case. Are public companies required to disclose a Wells Notice? A Wells notice is a private communication to the recipient, and the Commission will not disclose it. In the past, many companies elected to not make any public disclosure of a Wells Notice. However, in recent years, some companies have voluntarily disclosed the receipt of a Wells Notice in their public filings with the SEC. Generally, such disclosures are a discretionary choice, rather than a requirement. The decision turns on whether the investigation and potential consequences would be a material fact that needs to be disclosed in light of other statements being publicly made by the company. Are registered broker-dealers and investment advisors required to disclose a Wells Notice? Yes, if you are a registered broker-dealer or investment advisor, you will be required to disclose the receipt of a Wells Notice in your Form U4. Related Reads: SEC Subpoenas: How to Respond How to Respond to a Wells Notice If you’ve received a Wells Notice, the first thing you should do is consult with an experienced securities defense attorney. Your attorney will help you understand the specific allegations against you and decide whether you should respond at all. If so, the attorney will craft a strategic and customized response on your behalf. Your response to a Wells Notice (also known as a Wells Submission) will be incredibly important in determining whether or not the SEC takes enforcement action against you. In some cases, a well-crafted response may convince the SEC to drop the matter entirely. In other cases, it may result in a more lenient punishment if the SEC does decide to bring charges. Before responding to a Wells Notice, you and your attorney will need to carefully review all of the evidence collected during the SEC’s investigation. This may include: Understanding the specific charges the SEC Enforcement Division is considering filing against you The limitations established for the Wells notice disclosure The deadline for submitting your Wells Notice disclosure to the SEC Once the analysis of the evidence is complete, your attorney will work with you to prepare a persuasive response that addresses the SEC’s specific concerns. This is a very important step as a Wells Submission presents the facts and the first arguments to persuade the SEC Enforcement Division to not pursue an enforcement action or to recommend a less severe action. The SEC will review the response and make a final determination on whether or not to bring charges. Even though the Wells Notice process is confidential, it may become public if the SEC decides to bring an enforcement action against you. More important, whatever is written in the response to the Wells notice could be deemed an admission of the facts stated within the Wells Notice. What Happens if the SEC decides to bring Charges? If the SEC decides to bring charges after you’ve received a Wells Notice, it will file a formal complaint against you in federal court or administrative proceeding. At this point, you will have an opportunity to defend yourself against the SEC’s charges. This is a complex process, and you will need to have an experienced securities defense attorney by your side to protect your rights and help you navigate the legal system. A Wells Notice is just the beginning of the SEC’s enforcement process, but it’s a very important step. If you’ve received a Wells Notice, make sure you consult with an experienced SEC defense attorney as soon as possible to ensure the best possible outcome in your case. Consider Consulting with an Experienced SEC Defense Attorney If you’ve received a Wells Notice, you should consult with an experienced...

Continue Reading